The Stepping-Stones of My Joyful Life

July 16, 2009

Photo: "Stuck between a rock and a "heart" place" taken by Mara

We all have turning points. We all have a road map of where we have been in our life. The roads twist and turn and when we look back at different moments we find that the map is constantly evolving. The list below tells about some of my life changing moments. Some are small. Some are big. But all of them are the bread crumbs left behind that help me to find my way back to who I am.

1. I was born. September 19, 1978 to two beautiful parents who loved me very much. I was looking through my baby book the other day (I still think I looked like Oscar the Grouch as a newborn) and I could feel the excitement of all of my loving relatives and our family's friends bouncing off the pages. It's good to know I was welcomed and embraced with such joy.

2. My parents divorced and my father moved out. (Age 5) Divorce is definitely a big thing in any child's life, but I have to say that for my parents it was never negative or angry. They shielded my sister and I from that pain. Even now as my sister and I are all grown up, they have continued to keep a healthy friendship. I am not sure I have ever thanked them for that. So...Mom, Dad...Thank you. I love you too.

3. I moved to Idaho with my Mom, Step-Dad and sister. (Just before my 12th birthday) I am still not sure how to quantify this experience, though I know it was a big turning point. I said goodbye to friends, family, and role models and bravely started a whole new life in a much smaller town. I wouldn't trade any of the experiences I had there or the friends I have made for anything, but some days (as I now live back in Seattle) I wonder about what my life would be like now had we stayed in Seattle. I hope that I would be at least a shadow of the person I am now, but in my heart I know that I would be so much less without the wonderful friends I have made in both of my hometowns. I think I have spent the right years in both places and for that, and for all of them, I am grateful. (To give you a timeline...1-11 Seattle, 12-21 Post Falls, 22-25 Seattle, 26-27 Post Falls, 27-NOW Seattle)

4. Broke up with a controlling, jealous, and emotionally abusive boyfriend. (Age 26) I definitely don't want to go into the details, but this was a defining moment for me. Yesterday, I wrote an email to a friend about how much I hope that adults will continue to educate young girls (and boys for that matter) that your life can be anything that you want it to be. You don't have to fit the mold and get married, have babies, and work the same job for 30 years. (Not that it's wrong, but it's definitely the default setting.) You don't have to wait for prince charming to come along to start your life. You should be independent and strong in order to be anything for anyone, including ourselves. In this relationship I was not. I was broken. It took my Mom crying for me to realize how my choice to just wait it out and see if it got better was affecting the people who loved me most. The next day, I broke it off, moved into my Mom's house, and started the rest of my new life. On that day, I stood up for myself and took the first step to becoming the strong, independent, happy single woman that I am today.

6. Taking my first solo vacation. (Age 30) Last year, many of you know, I set a goal (along with many others) to travel more and I have been on the go ever since. A few months ago I went on my first solo adventure and proved to myself just how strong I am. For those of you who know how shy and reserved I can be until I get to know someone (then I talk your ear off) this was a major step for me and for the boundaries of my comfort zone. The best part about the experience was realizing that the person I was on my trip was exactly who I was at home. I AM strong. I AM independent. I didn't have to go somewhere else to prove anything. I just had to open my eyes and accept who I really am. She is here to stay.

7. Learning to become a strong and independent woman. (Age 30) You know, ever since I turned 30, something in me has switched. A bright, beautiful light went on. I knew this would be the best year of my life. Though birthdays aren't really turning points exactly, they are still milestones. This one woke me up and challenged me to be better. From that day on I have accomplished more in one year than I feel I have in my lifetime. Goals have been accomplished, new beginnings have begun, my inner and outer styles are progressing, I am proclaiming a love for myself and others from the mountaintop that is this blog, and I am evolving every day right before my own eyes. Now that 31 is approaching I have to be honest that I feel the momentum slowing down, but in my heart I know it's only adjusting to a strong and constant speed. This is only the beginning.

So, that is my inventory of the roads of my life so far. I have many other stepping-stones laying about, but these were the ones that stood out strongest to me. This is a very honest post, and I hope that many of you are encouraged to make your own list, and that I didn't share too much of my soul. This sort of reflection can be hard to swallow sometimes, but for everything I listed above, I have only the deepest love, pride and appreciation because these moments have brought me to where I am now...this place is simply joyful.